Book Summary DSM-5

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illnesses is the latest edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s professional reference book on mental health and brain-related conditions. Also known as the DSM-5, this is the main guide for mental health providers in the U.S. The latest version, the DSM-5-TR, was published in 2022.

What is the DSM-5?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, often known as the “DSM,” is a reference book on mental health and brain-related conditions and disorders. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is responsible for the writing, editing, reviewing and publishing of this book.

The number “5” attached to the name of the DSM refers to the fifth — and most recent — edition of this book. The DSM-5®’s original release date was in May 2013. The APA released a revised version of the fifth edition in March 2022. That version is known as the DSM-5-TR™, with TR meaning “text revision.”

IMPORTANT: The DSM-5 and DSM-5-TR are medical reference books intended for experts and professionals. The content in these books is very technical, though people who aren’t medical professionals may still find it interesting or educational. However, you shouldn’t use either of these books as a substitute for seeing a trained, qualified mental health or medical provider.

Additionally, the APA also publishes books that supplement the content in the DSM-5-TR. Examples of these supplement publications include the DSM-5 Handbook of Differential Diagnosis and DSM-5 Clinical Cases.

What is the purpose of the DSM-5?
The first step in treating any health condition — physical or mental — is accurately diagnosing the condition. That’s where the DSM-5 comes in. It provides clear, highly detailed definitions of mental health and brain-related conditions. It also provides details and examples of the signs and symptoms of those conditions.

In addition to defining and explaining conditions, the DSM-5 organizes those conditions into groups. That makes it easier for healthcare providers to accurately diagnose conditions and tell them apart from conditions with similar signs and symptoms.

How was the DSM-5 content created?
To create the DSM-5, the APA gathered more than 160 mental healthcare professionals from around the world, including psychiatrists, psychologists and experts from many other professional fields. Hundreds of other professionals contributed and assisted as advisers on specific topics. The creation of the DSM-5 also involved field trials and tests.

For the DSM-5-TR, the APA called on many of those involved in the initial DSM-5 release. In all, more than 200 professionals directly contributed to the DSM-5-TR.

What topics does the DSM-5 cover?
The DSM-5 mainly focuses on mental health conditions. However, because mental health and brain function are inseparable, the DSM-5 also covers conditions and concerns related to how the brain works. The book also contains diagnostic codes, which make it easier for healthcare providers to cross-reference conditions against the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Edition (ICD-10).

The DSM-5 has three sections:

Section I: DSM-5 Basics. This section covers how medical professionals should use the book in their work. It also includes guidance on using the DSM-5 when mental health concerns involve legal professionals, court cases, etc.
Section II: Diagnostic Criteria and Codes. This section is the largest in the book. Each chapter covers a type of condition, with the specific conditions defined and explained within (see the table below for more about this section).
Section III: Emerging Measures and Models. This section contains information about specific assessment tools, which providers use as guidelines for diagnosing some conditions. It also has information about how cultural differences may affect a diagnosis, and a chapter about conditions that may eventually go into a later edition of the DSM but need further study before that happens.

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